How to remotely run Disk Repair (fsck) on OS X

The first thing you should do is make sure your remote control program is running properly at startup.  I’m using TeamViewer so I just added it to the main user’s startup items.  If you’re using VNC on your mac you probably don’t have to do anything special once it’s enabled.

The problem with Disk Repair (fsck) is that it needs to be run in single user mode, but you won’t have a GUI to work with on the remote side so the system needs to reboot, run fsck automatically, then reboot back to your normal GUI.

Here’s how:
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Beagleboard: Upgrading from Debian 5 to Debian 6

I recently wanted/needed to upgrade Debian on my Beagleboard. The original Debian install was done following the instructions over at when I update distributions I usually prefer doing a clean install but since 90+% of my time on the Beagleboard is done while working remotely I thought I would give the upgrade route a try.

Before beginning I backed up my system. I took a copy of /etc, /var, /root, /home. I also made backups of my webmin config. Lastly I also took copies of all the binaries I have compiled (some needed major tuning). Once I was satisfied I could rebuild should I encounter a catastrophic meltdown during the upgrade I decided to proceed.

My first stop was a Google search on the subject. This yielded an excellent x86 centric guide over at HowtoForge. The first section of the guide detailing package cleanup was helpful as aptitude identified 27 packages that could be removed. My second avenue for information, given the unsatisfactory results from my Google searches, was the Beagleboard mailing list. I posted a message requesting steps for a Debian upgrade and got some immediate feedback. The Beagleboard group is great!

So, to recap, here is what I assembled from the HowtoForge and Beagleboard group posts as my upgrade procedure.

Clean up Apt source list file /etc/apt/sources.list, mine looked like this post clean-up:

Next I cleaned up all the packages beginning with making sure the current distribution is up to date:

Now I regularly update my system so no actions were required for the above commands. (I’ve written about apt-* before as I was learning about it)

Next was package cleanup, I followed the instructions by Deninix here exactly as he wrote them.

Ensure that no packages on hold with:

dpkg –audit
dpkg –get-selections | grep hold

For the final go ahead test use:


Press g and the list shows which packages need your attention. In my case they were 27 packages listed as needing to be removed. So I removed them and then I was clean.

Next I followed the advice from the Beagleboard group.

I upgraded to the latest 2.6.35.x kernel for lenny using:

*I had to remove the “sudo” commands from the script

and rebooted.

Then I updated my sources list for squeeze, here’s what it looks like now

Then I started the upgrade process with:

The next recommned step was:

I did run into some fairly significant issues with “aptitude safe-upgrade”. On the first pass just about all running processes on the beagleboard became defunct and nothing was working correctly. So I rebooted with an absolute minimal system running little more than kernel and sshd and ran “aptitude safe-upgrade” again. This time I let it run for 18+ hours and during that time the CPU was pegged at 100% and I was getting into some pretty serious swapping so I decided it wasn’t likely working as intended. I decided to move on with

Here, dist-upgrade wanted to remove the “sysvconfig” package. I didn’t have any issues with this so I said “Yes”. The dist-upgrade command completely successfully and took about an hour.

I rebooted to make sure everything was sane. Next I decided to upgrade to the latest stable squeeze kernel with:

*I had to remove the “sudo” commands from the script

I rebooted to make sure everything was sane. Next I tested a few of my applications:

Apache : ok
Webmin : Requested I re-detect the OS, after that it was OK
Anyterm : ok
munin : ok
Various scripts : ok

All and all it was a fairly painless process and was able to complete it without needing the console.

Ubuntu from the command line: Package Management

My Linux background centers around RedHat and Centos. I have been using yum for a long time and I am very comfortable with it. One of the greatest frustrations I have with ubuntu is having difficulty finding the packages I need easily from the command line.

I realize there are a bunch of “apt-*” how to articles/blog posts out there but all of the ones I have read did not provide me with the required golden nugget which is, “I need file X, what package contains this file?” Specifically I needed mkimage to complete my boot image for a 1BeagleBoard and I did not know what package I needed to install to get it. The required command is apt-file, which is not installed by default on 10.04, so let’s go through some more basic commands first.

It’s probably a good idea to always start package management by running ‘apt-get update’ which fetches latest software list and version numbers

apt-get install –> installs packages and resolves dependencies
apt-get remove –> remove a package, leaves configuration files intact
apt-get purge –> remove package and configuration files

OK, so now we can install apt-file (sudo apt-get apt-file), once the package is installed, apt-file update must be run.

apt-file update –> updates file cache, takes a while

When the update has completed, we can search using apt-file search . Let’s look at my example above, what package do I need to install to get mkimage

The output is quite verbose and some interpretation is required. In my case the required package is uboot-mkimage. This was fairly easy to identify since uboot is the grub equivalent on the 1BeageBoard.

In my personal quest to learn about apt-* I came across a a few more useful commands which I will summarize here:

apt-get upgrade -u –> get a list of what can be upgraded (run apt-get update first)
apt-get upgrade –> install available upgraded packages
dpkg-query -l “search_string” –> query package database (of installed packages)
dpkg-query -l –> list all installed packages
dpkg -i <*.deb> –> manually install a package, use this with care and make sure the package is trusted
deborphan –> with no arguements lists orphaned packages, must be installed, apt-get remove can then be used to remove orphans manually, use care with this!

Ii can now say that I can do all my required package management with apt-* as well as i can with yum which make using ubuntu somewhat less irritating.

1 The Beagleboard is an embedded ARM platform that can run many flavours of Linux, I run Debian Lenny on mine (

Freenas Upgrade

I’ve been running a Freenas server for sometime.  The configuration was as follows:

  • VIA EPIA 533MHz MB
  • 256 MB Ram
  • Sil 3112 4-Port SATA
  • 4 x 500 GB HD

I upgraded to the following configuration:

  • ASRock P965-GM w/E4300
  • 2 GB Ram
  • Sil 3112 4-Port SATA
  • 4 x 500 GB HD
  • 2 x 1 TB HD

The upgrade process wasn’t exactly straight forward but not too complicated, here’s what I did:

  1. Take a few screen shots of information related to the Disks and RAID array
  2. Take a backup of the Freenas configuration
  3. Shut down the original Freenas server.
  4. Pull the IDE to CF adapter w/512 MB flash card
  5. Install IDE to CF adapter w/512 MB flash card in target system
  6. Install the latest verion of Freenas 0.7 (Sadly rumoured to be the final version)
  7. Boot, assign IP address, login to management interface, upload configuration from step 2
  8. Shutdown
  9. Install the Sil3112 Card & 4 x 500 GB drives, boot, RAID is detected but disk management fails to see drives correctly, simply remove and re-add the drives in disk management
  10. Shutdown
  11. Install the 2 x 1 TB drives, boot
  12. Disk Mgt, add drives, format them software RAID, create RAID 1, Format RAID 1, Mount RAID 1
  13. Test / Benchmark

The end result is a much better performing NAS that offers better than 100 Mbit performance but isn’t going to break and speed records.  Overall the process was fairly simple and were completed in just over an hour.